David Choe was born in L.A. to non-traditional Korean parents.
“They love the Lord and all, but they’ve also been extremely supportive,” he says. His father always wanted to be an artist. Both parents have adopted a strategy of expecting nothing of him, he says, and enjoying the happenstance of his successes.
They have also weathered the tumult of his brain chemistry, Choe says. Recently diagnosed with ADD, he attributes both his abilities as an artist and his recent stint in a Tokyo jail to the disability.
“It’s helped form my career, helps me create,” he says. “But it also ends me up in solitary confinement. I was running through a store because my shopping time was limited, and the security guy thought I was running out with something. I didn’t speak Japanese . . . he stopped me, we got into a screaming match, the police came, I resisted arrest . . .”
Several weeks of “just hanging with Jesus” later, Choe returned to the U.S. and made some changes. For one thing, he moved to San Jose.
“In places like this where there’s nothing BIG happening, you’ll find small pockets or insurgences of things happening. It’s more like a community. Everyone who does art and music has been very welcoming.”
“Sam Flores (Room 204) called me about the Hotel des Arts room,” Choe says. “I had missed the deadline and had to complete it in two days. But I work best under pressure. I saw the room, the way I wanted it to be – part of it is a fantasy to trip out on, part of it is like a rock band had stayed there and trashed the place, and the part that you see while you’re on the bed, hanging out – that part is serene. Then I connected all the elements with a magic rainbow, and put in a blue dog and an elf who cut off a unicorn’s horn. It’s totally fun.”
Choe’s next excellent adventure: a second trip to Israel, where he’d like to paint a mile-long mural on Israeli-Palestinian dividing wall. Since he’s had difficulty securing art grants in the past, he’s sought out other avenues.
“If I have to go to Israel with a Nike symbol on my back, I will,” he says.